Hello again my wonderful readers. Last week I said that I would start a weekly post concerning my varied opinions, view, and insights into the topic of love. I am here today to fulfill that oath for you. Again I want to make it clear, I am not a councilor, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or pastor. I don’t even purport that what I am going to share is derived from any kind of strictly biblical teaching. I am just a guy with some ideas. Take ’em or leave ’em.
I think we all have heard some people say that love is an action, not an emotion. And I think that we have all stepped back and said to ourselves, “Hey wait, I’m pretty sure that I’ve ‘felt’ love before.” So which is it? Is it an emotion, or is it an action? For a long time I was in the first camp, I thought that love was just an action. I would say that the feelings were something else entirely; they were lust, or kinship, or pity, or duty, or whatever. But I couldn’t get past that passage in 1 Corinthians where it says, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. ”
Wait… didn’t I say that I wasn’t going to give biblical teaching? Yes, yes I did. And when I said that I meant that what I have to say isn’t intended for spiritual doctrine. I take biblical teaching *VERY* seriously, and I am not willing claim this as a Bible teaching. Doesn’t mean that I am not going to use biblical references. The Bible after all, is a huge influence on my thinking, and of course it is going to heavily shape my thoughts, even on topics that aren’t doctrinal in nature. Thank you for your patients, we now return you to your regularly scheduled blog feed.
So, I kept coming back to this passage in 1 Corinthians and feeling it being very counter to what I was believing. This with a lot of other contributing factors lead me to change my view on the subject. Now I believe that love exists in a sort of symbiotic duality, each part needing the other in order to be love, and when one or the other fades away it becomes something all together different. I call these two parts volitional love, and compulsory love.
Volitional love is, as the name might suggest, the choosing part of love. This is the love in action. It is the love that sells all its things and gives it to the poor. It is the love that writes three-hundred plus letters like Noah form the movie, “The Notebook”. Volitional love is the choices we make, when we decide to put someone before ourselves.
On the other hand, compulsory love is the emotional side. As the name might imply, this is not something we chose to feel, it just is. Now, I know that I said that love is a choice last week, and I stand by that 100%. In the long run you can indeed change the nature of your heart and love some more and others less, but to quote the famous economist John Keynes out of context, “in the long run, we’re all dead”. In the short term we’re stuck with our emotions as they are. This is why we can’t seem to drum up and affection for that person who on paper is all right for us, but on the other hand we can’t seem to stop thinking about Mr. or Miss Very Wrong.
Earlier I said that this relationship was a symbiotic one, and here’s what I meant. If you have good feelings towards someone, and you don’t do anything about them then it isn’t love. Love leads to action, and is in fact that very action. It is kind of like how in the bible, James talks about faith. If you aren’t acting on your faith, working it out, then it isn’t faith that you have, it is vain idealism; wishful thinking. Love is this very same way, if it isn’t making you kinder towards the person it is directed towards, then it isn’t love. If you aren’t actually putting that person’s wants and needs ahead of your own, at least some of the time, then it isn’t love, it is something else entirely.
Likewise, if you do all these things – giving up everything you have, even your flesh – and you don’t care about the person you are doing them for, that isn’t love either. If you do all of this because you somehow see it as your duty or your obligation, it isn’t love anymore than if you didn’t lift a finger. A Secret Service agent who takes a bullet for the president isn’t doing out of love (necessarily), but duty. That’s his job.
Now there is an ebb and flow to all of this; it isn’t exactly strict black and white. Does the man who still tends to his wife’s needs after thirty years, but doesn’t feel for her the way he did when they married still loving her? Probably. And what about the young lady who’s man went off to war who can do nothing but pine for his return; is she still loving him? Most likely.
But my point is that the two haves want to live together. The young lady wants desperately to please her bo, and the old man still cares deeply for his wife even if the magic spark of romance is gone.
Anyhow, that’s how I see it. Expect to see more musings on love every Friday from now until the foreseeable future. Let me know in the comments whether you agree with me. Until next time, let God’s grace and love be upon you.